Honorary Doctorates

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The following people will be receiving honorary doctor of philosophy degrees from the Weizmann Institute of Science

The degrees will be awarded at a ceremony to be held Monday, Nov. 5 at 17:00 in the Wix Auditorium.

Arie Lova Eliav

Born in Moscow (1921), Arie Lova Eliav came to this country as a child and grew up in Tel Aviv. At 15, he joined the Hagganah, and later volunteered for the British Army (1941-45). After World War II, he participated in ferrying Holocaust refugees from Europe to British-mandated Palestine, which had closed the doors to Jewish immigration. In his book The Voyage of the Ulua (1967), he described the 5,000 kilometer heroic odyssey of the ship he commanded.  During the War of Independence, he served in the Israeli navy.
Infected with David Ben-Gurion’s dream of mass aliyah and settlement of the Negev, young Eliav was given heavy responsibilities in organizing Jewish immigration from Muslim countries and settlement, mostly in the Negev – a colossal enterprise, which had deep, long-term social implications.  He oversaw the establishment of the Lachish regional settlements and the city of Arad (1955-1957).  In 1958-60, he served as First Secretary in Israel’s embassy in Moscow, which led to the publication of Between Hammer and Sickle (1965), the first book that exposed Soviet anti-Semitism to the world.
His years in the Knesset (1965-1975) include a term as the Labor Party's Secretary General, and brief stints as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry and Deputy Minister of Immigrant Absorption. After the Six Day War, in the midst of general euphoria, it was with an aching heart that Eliav saw much of the national energy diverted from settling the Negev to the newly acquired territories, and warned against continued occupation of the Palestinian people. He published these highly unpopular views in Land of the Hart (1972).  His courageous and lone stance on this issue brought his rupture with the Labor Party in 1975. He served briefly as MK of a tiny splinter party ('Shely'), then returned to the Labor Party for a final term (1988-1992).
Leaving politics, Eliav began a new career as an educator and writer.  He has been a volunteer teacher in immigrant towns and in prisons, and even served as a male nurse in a hospital. In 1986, aged 65, he and his wife moved into a dilapidated hut near the Egyptian border, and established there the Nitzana Youth Village, where participants learn the heritage of the Negev and democratic values.
An eloquent thinker and communicator, Eliav has authored additional books including New targets for Israel (1969), The Short Cut (1970), Shalom: Peace in Jewish Tradition (1977), Autobiography: Rings of Dawn (1984), and New Heart, New Spirit: Biblical Humanism for Modern Israel (1986).
In 1988, he was awarded the Israel Prize for his unique contribution to society. In 2003, he received the Ben-Gurion Prize for his work in immigrant absorption and settlement of the Negev. On the eve of Independence Day 2005, he was honored with lighting one of the 12 torches at the remembrance ceremony on Mt. Herzl.

Avram Hershko

Avram Hershko was born in 1937, in Hungary and emigrated to Israel in 1950.
After obtaining an M. D. degree in 1965 at the Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and serving as a physician in the Israel Defense Forces, Hershko went on to complete his Ph.D. studies at Hebrew University in 1969. This was followed by a postdoctoral training period in the lab of Gordon Tomkins at the University of California, San Francisco. Since his return to Israel in 1972, Prof. Hershko has served on the faculty of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, where he continues today as a Distinguished Professor at the Unit of Biochemistry, the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.
In 2004, Prof. Hershko shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with his former graduate student and present Technion colleague Aaron Ciechanover, and his collaborator Irwin Rose of UC Irvine, for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. Whereas much biochemistry research had previously been devoted to the all-important production of proteins by cells, little interest was directed to the reverse process – the breaking down (degradation) of proteins.  This neglected research area was shown by Hershko and his associates to be a tightly regulated cellular process, which governs such phenomena as cell division, DNA repair, quality control of newly-produced proteins, and important parts of the immune defense. When the degradation does not work correctly, diseases such as cystic fibrosis or certain types of cancer ensue.  This basic research has led to knowledge that today can be applied to the development of drugs against these and other diseases.
The Nobel Prize was preceded by a number of other prestigious awards that have recognized Prof. Hershko’s pioneering achievements, such as the Israel Prize in Biochemistry (1994); the Wachter Prize, by the University of Innsbruck, Austria (with A. Ciechanover, 1999); the Gairdner International Award, by the Gairdner Foundation, Canada (with A. Varshavsky, 1999); the Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research (2000); and the Wolf Prize in Medicine (2001).

Eric Kandel

Born in Vienna (1929), Eric Kandel emigrated with his family to the US in 1938 after Austria's annexation by Germany.  As he later attested, his traumatic experiences as a child under the Nazi regime may have helped to determine his later interests in the mind and in human behavior, the unpredictability of motivation, and the persistence of memory. Over the years, he has returned to these subjects repeatedly, as his professional interests evolved from a youthful interest in European intellectual history to psychoanalysis with its more systematic approach to mental processes, and, finally, to the biology of conscious and unconscious memory.
After graduation from Harvard College and the New York University School of Medicine, Kandel trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Wade Marshall in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at NIH and later with Ladislav Tauc at the Institut Morey in Paris. He did his residency in psychiatry at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Harvard Medical School.
Prof. Kandel held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and the New York University School of Medicine before coming to Columbia (1974), where he was the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, and, in 1984, a Senior Investigator at the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute at Columbia.
Prof. Kandel is a pioneer and leader in neurobiological studies of neuronal plasticity and memory. His achievements became the standard against which the cellular approach to memory is measured. In 2000, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (shared with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard) for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system.  Additional honors include the Lasker Award (1983), the Rosenstiel Award of Brandeis University (1984),  the Gairdner International Award of Canada (1987), the National Medal of Science (1988), the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research (1991), the Harvey Prize of the Technion (1993), the Charles A. Dana Award (1997), and the Wolf Prize (1999).  He has received honorary degrees from 15 universities, including the University of Vienna.  Prof. Kandel is a member of the National Academies of Sciences of the USA, Germany, France and Austria, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Institute of Medicine, and Germany's Order of Merit for the Sciences and Arts.
Prof. Kandel's love of teaching culminated in a seminal textbook, Principles of Neural Science (1981), the first attempt to link cell and molecular biology to neural science, and neural science to behavior and clinical states. This textbook, in its multiple updated editions, became the standard textbook in neuroscience worldwide.
In 2006, Kandel published In Search of Memory: the Emergence of a New Science of Mind, which chronicles his life and the intellectual trajectory of his research. The book was awarded the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Science and Technology.

Christiane Nuesslein-Volhard

In 1995, Christiane Nuesslein-Volhard received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with her former colleague at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Eric F. Wieschaus, and with Edward B. Lewis of Cal Tech, for their discoveries of important genetic mechanisms which control early embryonic development.  Using the fruit fly as the experimental model, Nuesslein-Volhard was able to identify and classify a small number of genes that are of key importance in determining the body plan and the formation of body segments. These findings, first published in 1980, were immediately recognized as seminal, not only as a research strategy that systematically identifies genes controlling development, but as a breakthrough that helps explain congenital malformations in humans.
She again broke new ground in 1991, this time in vertebrate embryology, when she carried out the first systematic search for mutations affecting zebra fish. This work was instrumental in establishing the zebra fish as another important genetic model organism.
With the proceeds of her Nobel Prize, Prof. Nuesslein-Volhard did something no Laureate had done before:  She created a foundation to provide financial support for childcare and related help to highly qualified female graduate students working on a doctoral thesis. The foundation’s goal is to increase the number of women who can contribute to top research in Germany.
Prof. Nuesselin-Volhard was born in 1942, in Magdeburg, Germany. She studied Biology, Physics, and Chemistry at the University of Frankfurt/Main, Germany (1962-64); then completed a Diploma in Biochemistry at the Eberhard-Karls-Universitaet, Tuebingen; and a Ph.D. (1973) in Biology (Genetics), University of Tuebingen.
Her academic appointments include: Head of group at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg (1978 - 1980); Head of group at the Friedrich-Miescher-Laboratorium of the Max Planck Society, Tuebingen (1981-1985); and, since 1985, scientific member of the Max Planck Society and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Genetics Division, Tuebingen.
Her achievements have been recognized with numerous prestigious awards in Germany and elsewhere, including the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Community (1986); the Carus Medal of the German Academy of Sciences (1989); the  Rosenstiel Medal, Brandeis University (1990); the  Albert Lasker Medical Research Award, New York (1991); Prix Louis Jeantet de Medecine, Geneva; the Gregor Mendel Medal of the Genetical Society, UK; the Otto Warburg Medal of the German Society for Biochemistry; the Sir Hans Krebs Medal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (1992); the 1994 Distinguished Service Medal (1st class) of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany; and a number of honorary doctorates. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, the Academia Europaea, and other scholarly organizations.
Her book Coming to Life: How Genes Drive Development (2006) summarizes scientific progress in the field, and discusses social issues like cloning, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, and designer babies. She has also published a cookbook.

Jehuda Reinharz

Jehuda Reinharz has done much to establish the study of Zionism and Israel’s history and culture as topics of serious academic pursuit, both in his personal research and in creating programs for educating American students in these neglected areas.
Born in Haifa (1944), Reinharz received his high school education in Germany and immigrated to the United States as a teenager.  Having earned concurrent bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, he completed a master’s degree in medieval Jewish history at Harvard (1968), and a doctorate in modern Jewish history at Brandeis University (1972).
His first academic appointment, at the University of Michigan (1972-1982), is notable for the program in Judaic Studies he created there.  In 1982, he was appointed the Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History at Brandeis University, and, in 1994, became its seventh President, a position which he continues to hold today.
His numerous public services include advice to Israel’s Council of Higher Education on the quality of history instruction, and membership on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States, appointed by President Clinton in 1998.
Reinharz has authored over 100 articles and 20 books.  The Jew in the Modern World is one of the most widely adopted college texts in modern Jewish history.  His two-volume biography (1985 and 1993) of Chaim Weizmann received many awards. Zionism and the Creation of a New Society, co-authored with the late Ben Halpern, was published in 1998.  One of his two most recent books which appeared in Hebrew, co-edited with his wife, Prof. Shulamit Reinharz, contains letters and documents relating to the life and times of Manya Shohat (1879-1961), a remarkable woman pioneer of the second aliyah. An updated anthology of significant documents of the Zionist movement and Israeli policies, Israel in the Middle East, co-edited with Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, appeared in 2007.
Prof. Reinharz is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College (1995), the Jewish Theological Seminary (1996), Fairfield University in Connecticut (1999) and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2005).  He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, UK, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and serves on the Council on Foreign Relations.  He won the Shazar Prize in History (Israel, 1988), and was the first recipient of the President of Israel Prize awarded by the Knesset (1990).
As the leading historian of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the Institute’s founder, Dr. Reinharz has a long and warm association with the Weizmann Institute. In 1991, he delivered on campus the Weizmann Lecture in the Sciences and Humanities entitled 'Statecraft as the Art of the Possible.'  Both he and his wife have been keynote speakers at Weizmann events in the US.
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